In a shocking move, after President Trump highlighted the racially-disparate aspects of a bill the South African Parliament was pushing, the nation backed off of the bill they had worked on for two years after President Trump tweeted his concern. The Bill would have stolen land from white farmers using ‘expropriation,’ so it looks like a strong show of power by the U.S. may have led to the tentative peace.
However, what the nation is planning to replace the measure could be even worse. Few people know that before this discussion about expropriation without compensation was first highlighted by President Donald Trump, however, the country already was working on a similar concept. Now, South Africa has abandoned the bill, in favor of a horrific constitutional change.
‘Expropriation’ is a fancy way to say ‘seizing property from private owners,’ ostensibly for the greater good. In this case, that expropriation concerns the seizure of land from white landowners.
The bill, as passed in 2016, was never signed into law. However, as it was written and passed through the South African parliament, the bill would have allowed the government to make ‘compulsory’ purchases of land in order to ‘redress’ racial disparities in rates of land ownership.
That bill has been withdrawn by the African National Congress.
Some might think that this would be cause for celebration. After all, it is not the job of the government to arbitrarily hand out land to people who have no idea what to do with it in order to fix ‘perceived’ racial grievances, at least not in any nation that respects property rights.
Quite the contrary; the bill is being withdrawn because, on August 1, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said that the ANC would change the constitution to allow for expropriation of land from white landowners without compensation.
In other words, the South African government, under the leadership of Ramaphosa, complaining of racial inequity, still wants the power to seize land from white landowners, and plans to make it a constitutional amendment.
South Africans throughout the nation are voicing their opinions on the proposed amendment, which would act on Section 25 of the South African Constitution.
After all, there is no point in writing a bill about expropriation with compensation if the constitution says payment isn’t required to seize land.
The news that the government plans to change the constitution to allow land to be seized from white people who own farmland comes after a number of claims that such white farmers were being targeted for assault and murder.
More disturbing still, however, is the idea that in South Africa, property rights don’t matter if the government doesn’t like them and you have the wrong color of skin.
The results of this for the nation are not likely to be positive.
Imagine a business, looking to open a factory in South Africa to assemble or produce a good or product. The business is owned by a foreign national, a European or American, and it employs hundreds.
If the South African government can arbitrarily target white-owned farmland because of ‘racial equality,’ why not white-owned businesses?
Why would any sane business operate within the confines of the nation?
Furthermore, this isn’t the first time that an African government has decided that arbitrary ‘racial equality’ was more important than respecting property rights or ensuring that farmland was properly utilized by people who had worked it for generations.
Even as recently as four years ago, white farm-owners were complaining that the Mugabe government was using the Zimbabwe military forces to push them off of their land.
The result of this policy was that the people who seized the farmlands didn’t know what to do with them. In many cases, they simply became ‘occupiers’ rather than farmers.
Zimbabwe suffered from economic issues and the loss of food and cash crops, in large part due to Mugabe’s policy of seizure.
Since then, the nation has invited many of the white owners of the farmland back, hoping to restore the farmland to its previous productivity. Often, the return of the owners has been celebrated by the people who worked for them.
South Africa’s racist history is unlikely to be magically solved by forcing white people off of their land. If anything, such a decision, and writing such policies into the nation’s constitution, will undermine the South African economy, as well as basic concepts of the rule of law.